Unfortunately, the global coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has resulted in the cancellation of live training for the foreseeable future. Realizing that professional development can’t be put on hold, firms are scrambling to find alternatives and are increasingly turning to live webinars. They’re such a “big deal” right now that the National Registry of CPE Sponsors has put out emergency guidance providing flexibility related to Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) for CPE providers under the Group Internet Based delivery method.
If you’re searching for an alternative to live training, GAAP Dynamics can help. We’ve been facilitating live webinars for our accounting firm and corporate clients for a number of years, even offering a free quarterly webinar series to our existing clients this year to help them out during these tough times. Are we any good? Well, based on participant evaluation comments from the recent SEC Update and Hot Topics webinars that we facilitated in April 2020, it appears that we’ve still got it!
“Very entertaining as well as informative. Not the regular dull CPE. Great job!”
In this post we’ll share with you the top 5 reasons why our webinars get top reviews and, if I do say so myself, are hotter than Hansel!
1. Utilize a dual-instructor model
We always have two instructors facilitate our webinars. It breaks up the monotony of only one voice and is a contingency plan in the event of technology issues. While many webinars have two (or more) instructors, we believe most do not effectively utilize the dual-instructor model. We don’t just split up the material, but rather have a “lead” and “co-lead” (think Al Michaels and Chris Collingsworth on Monday Night Football). This leads to dialogue between the two instructors and, we believe, increased engagement for the participants. And, it brings the energy and enthusiasm. You’ll get results!
“This was probably the most lively and engaging webinar I’ve attended in a long while. Kudos for the spirit and pep!”
2. Don’t read a script
Obviously, whether you facilitate live training in a classroom or via webinar, you need to be prepared. This means not only with the underlying technical material, but also the “flow” and timing of the presentation, including how you “hand off” to the other instructor. To ensure that it goes smoothly, you need to practice. Always, ALWAYS do at least one dry run before every webinar. That said, don’t rehearse so much that you stress yourself out.
And, if you only heed one bit of advice, don’t try to read a script. Unless you are a professional actor, it will come across dry and monotone, lacking any emotion. This is “No Bueno” because in a webinar, your voice – the pitch, volume, and reflection – is everything.
"Having two speakers go back and forth was very effective. It was a conversational format, so it was easy to stay engaged. The level of depth of the discussion was very good as well."
3. Use video
Although we are “quasi-professional” voice actors (we are actually the voice talent in our online self-study courses), we still want to use all the tools in the instructor toolbox. This means we want them to see us. How else are you going to know how passionate we are about U.S. GAAP or IFRS? Don’t underestimate the importance of non-verbal communication when explaining complex accounting topics or facilitating a debrief of a case study. Smiles, hand gestures, eye rolls - they’re all missed if you’re only using audio. Do yourself a favor. Be prepared, get a haircut, and turn on the camera!
“Casual, good back-and-forth between facilitators to break it up, relevant examples, appreciated seeing both facilitators on camera at different times.”
Also, consider using video from other sources just to break up the lecture. We’ve used short clips of Warren Buffet explaining why he doesn’t like ASC 321 and other videos on YouTube, as well as videos included in our online self-study topics. If variety is the spice of life, then video is the salsa!
4. Make the training materials relevant and engaging
If you don’t use video, the slides are the only thing the participants see. Therefore, make sure your slides are visually appealing and don’t contain too many words. Be sure to include the slides as a handout for participants to download after the webinar concludes. In addition, since our training materials always include mini case studies, we also provide the solutions as a handout as well. Finally, if there are any external resources that you found helpful in developing the materials, chances are the participants will too. Include them as a handout or at least provide the participants with a link to them.
In order to grant CPE credits for a webinar under the Group Internet Based delivery method, you must utilize a real time monitoring mechanism as a way to prove that participants are participating in the course. Most CPE providers, including GAAP Dynamics, utilize polling questions. However, unlike other CPE providers, we don’t just ask “throw away” questions to ensure that you are still among the living. We use polling questions as a way to answer the many class discussions within our materials. That way, when we review the responses, we can see if participants are actually understanding the concept and, if not, we can add further explanation.
“Excellent presentation. Handouts and slides were top notch!”
5. Have fun!
Finally, have fun. Tell a joke. Interact with your co-presenter. And, don’t forget to smile (remember, you’re on camera). We’ve even dressed up as Harry Potter and Hermione Granger for a webinar we facilitated on Halloween. This enjoyment translates into energy and passion for the topic. Plus, if you’re having fun, chances are your participants will too!
“I like how prepared both presenters were. They also clearly enjoyed the topics and were both having fun. That makes things a LOT more engaging for the viewer.”
Well, that’s about it, our top 5 suggestions to improve the quality of your webinars and engage participants. And we believe if they’re engaged, they’re learning! If you want to see the “Simulated Live” recording of the SEC Update and Topics webinar that was the source of these evaluation comments, you can view it here.
Check out this post for more about our webinars, including the various clients we’ve helped. Want to learn more about how GAAP Dynamics can help you take your webinars to the next level? Let’s talk! We’re always here to help.
About GAAP Dynamics
We’re a DIFFERENT type of accounting training firm. We don’t think of training as a “tick the box” exercise, but rather an opportunity to empower your people to help them make the right decisions at the right time. Whether it’s U.S. GAAP training, IFRS training, or audit training, we’ve helped thousands of professionals since 2001. Our clients include some of the largest accounting firms and companies in the world. As lifelong learners, we believe training is important. As CPAs, we believe great training is vital to doing your job well and maintaining the public trust. We want to help you understand complex accounting matters and we believe you deserve the best training in the world, regardless of whether you work for a large, multinational company or a small, regional accounting firm. We passionately create high-quality training that we would want to take. This means it is accurate, relevant, engaging, visually appealing, and fun. That’s our brand promise. Want to learn more about how GAAP Dynamics can help you? Let’s talk!
This post is published to spread the love of GAAP and provided for informational purposes only. Although we are CPAs and have made every effort to ensure the factual accuracy of the post as of the date it was published, we are not responsible for your ultimate compliance with accounting or auditing standards and you agree not to hold us responsible for such. In addition, we take no responsibility for updating old posts, but may do so from time to time.